Here are today’s dispatches from the crossroads of faith, media and culture.

1. Limbaugh apologizes. From Hollywood Reporter: Rush Limbaugh has issued an apology to the law student he insulted on his radio program earlier this week. The apology comes one day after multiple sponsors indicated they would withdraw support from his program, because of controversial comments he made about Georgetown student Sandra Fluke.

From NewsBusters: On his radio program Friday, conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh called for President Obama to return the $1 million that Bill Maher gave to his Super PAC due to the vulgar things the comedian has called Sarah Palin. Maher haplessly countered this on HBO’s Real Time later in the evening saying, “Rush, I don’t have sponsors – I’m on HBO”
Comment: Setting aside that Maher’s comment reveals a disturbing mindset that places power politics over actual right and wrong, he makes an excellent point. Conservatives need their own HBO. I’m talking about a pay channel which honors values such as faith, kindness, forgiveness, patriotism, personal responsibility and mutual respect, rather than dismissing or denigrating them. It could be marketed via churches and conservative organizations, not as a means to attack the left but to uphold, via the programming we support, the values we hold true.

Developing such a platform would be the next logical step in the conservative media revolution spearheaded by the late Andrew Breitbart whose websites (i.e. Big Hollywood, Big Government, etc.) provide an excellent forum for conservative commentary on the culture. The next phase is creating a distribution infrastructure for conservative programming it because, as has been accurately stated, “Politics is downstream from culture.”

The network could be called Upstream TV, both a reference to the phrase that inspired it and the emerging technology which will allow it flourish, unbundled and without the support of cable industry gatekeepers.  The service could be paid for by a combination of consumer subscriptions and advertising (in much the same manner of old-style magazines). The mix would keep costs down for the consumer while assuring advertisers (i.e. P&G and Walmart) that they are reaching an under-served audience that really wants and appreciates the product.

The channel would offer a wide mix of quality original and acquired programming from talented producers and writers who present a clear alternative to the general Hollywood perspective.  It’s been my experience that there’s no shortage of accomplished and talented people eager to produce such fare. The missing link, particularly in television, has been distribution.

While Upstream TV wouldn’t strictly be a family or faith network, it would respect and honor traditional values in its programming while avoiding annoying cultural sucker punches.

BTW, as to Limbaugh’s comment and his subsequent apology, it was correct that he issue one. Though I am certainly in agreement that the young woman’s testimony provided an unattractive view of the entitlement society at its most cloying, describing her as a “slut” was definitely way over the line, a descent into Bill Maheresque anything-goes name calling that doesn’t become conservatives (or liberals). For an excellent commentary on the double standard applied to conservative and liberal misogynists, checkout Kirsten Powers’ essay in The Daily Beast.  Conservatives, of course, should avoid applying a double standard of our own.

2. Kristin Chenoweth defends GCB to Christians. From Hollywood Reporter: “I think it’s really funny,” she says. “I remember growing up, it was always the same woman who got the solos in the church choir. And there’s always the woman at the bake sale or the church dinner who wanted to outcook everyone. The thing is, just because you’re a Christian doesn’t mean you’re perfect.”
Comment: The ABC show (which debuted last night), of course, was first titled Good Christian Bitches (after the book on which it is based). It was temporarily changed to Good Christian Belles before some network genius decided on GCB. Anyway, Ms. Chenoweth, a Christian herself, has a point when she suggests that we’d all be better if we took ourselves (and the groups we identify with) less seriously. But that sage advice doesn’t only apply to Christians.

My basic point is that it’s wrong and a waste of time to try and silence our critics. Try to make a distinction between legitimate humor and commentary. And, yes, call out for criticism those who really cross the line.  But, aside from that, let’s pleasantly go about the business of getting our own story out — without turning the sort of vitriol we object to having directed at us on others. I think that’s called civility.

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

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